the three engines of the new European rocket are good for service

The Ariane 6 engine is ready. The three different engines have all been successfully tested. The maiden flight of the new European rocket is scheduled for 2021.

Ariane 6 is pretty much good for the service. In any case, in terms of its engine. The new European rocket has successfully passed all the tests aimed at verifying the correct functioning of its propulsion – or more exactly of its propulsions, because the launcher will actually use three different engines for its missions. The very first being scheduled for mid-2021. This will be the maiden flight.

Vulcain 2.1: for the main propulsion of Ariane 6

First of all there is the motorization of the main stage, provided by the Vulcain 2.1, whose operational career is scheduled to last ten to fifteen years, before handing over to a new generation, called Prometheus. The Vulcain is an old program, launched at the beginning of the 90s, and which accompanied the Ariane 5 epic. Vulcain and Vulcain 2 are intended for Ariane 5. Vulcain 2.1 to Ariane 6.

vulcan rocket engine
Detail of a Vulcain engine. // Source: The Chatfields

Vinci: a re-ignitable engine for Ariane 6

For the upper stage, Ariane 6 uses a re-ignitable engine called Vinci. The liquid propulsion machine (with a mixture of oxygen and cryogenic hydrogen, as for the Vulcain 2.1) can also be re-ignited up to five times, offering it increased maneuvering capacity and also a better guarantee of safe engine deorbitation, once the mission is complete.

The Vinci engine in action // Source: ArianeGroup

P120C: a common booster between Ariane 6 and Vega-C

Finally, there are the P120C side boosters, which can be two or four in number depending on the mission profile. Unlike the other two engines, it is about solid propulsion. The P120C boosters, whose role is to support takeoff and the ascent phase, have the particularity of also serving as the main stage for the Vega-C light rocket (the C meaning common).

A test of a P120C booster. // Source: CNES

« The qualification tests of the 3 engines of the new European rocket Ariane 6 have been completed “, congratulates himself ArianeGroup. « The Vulcain 2.1 and Vinci engines are moreover “ready to be fitted “. However, there are still other steps to be taken, warns theEuropean Space Agency, such as combined trials aimed at ” qualify the Ariane 6 subsystems at stage and launcher level ».

In the long term, Europe is already working on the next generation, now called Ariane Next, which could arrive in a little over a decade. It will be based on the Prometheus engine and will have the characteristic of having a reusable first stage capable of returning to Earth automatically. Prototypes and demonstrators are being designed on this subject, with Callisto and Themis.

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